Amid upheaval, HH the Amir affirms Qatar's support for Sudan
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has held a telephone conversation with the President of Sudan Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir, in which the pesident briefed HH the Amir on the developments in Sudan.
In this regard, the Amir affirmed Qatar's support for Sudan and its readiness to offer help to overcome these conditions, reiterating the Amir's keenness on Sudan's security and stability.
The Sudanese president thanked His Highness the Amir for his keenness and concern.
Sudanese authorities arrested 14 leaders of an opposition coalition Saturday, a spokesman for the grouping said, as anti-government protests driven by an economic crisis continued for a fourth day in several cities.
Farouk Abu Issa, the 85-year-old head of the National Consensus Forces, one of the country's two main opposition groupings, was among those detained after an opposition meeting in the capital Khartoum, said spokesman Sadiq Youssef.
"We demand their immediate release, and their arrest is an attempt by the regime to stop the street movements," Youssef said, adding that Abu Issa was in poor health and had been transferred to hospital after his detention.
Officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The arrests came on the fourth day of demonstrations, fuelled by deteriorating economic conditions in cities across Sudan, in which protesters have voiced anger over corruption.
Protesters also gathered in several eastern neighbourhoods of Khartoum and in the southern city of Madani, witnesses said.
Faisal Hassan Ibrahim, an assistant to Bashir and deputy head of the ruling party, said the protests were "coordinated and organised" and that two of those killed in demonstrations in the city of al-Qadarif were from the armed forces.
"Now the Sudanese armed forces are guarding strategic locations in all Sudanese regions," he added.
Ibrahim said the latest protests were being manipulated by "organised entities" without naming particular groups.
At least nine people have been killed in protests this week, according to officials and witnesses, though casualty numbers are hard to confirm.
Sadiq Al Mahdi, leader of the opposition Umma party who returned to Sudan this week from nearly a year in self-imposed exile, backed the protests, saying they would "continue because the people are driven by collapsing services".
Al Mahdi blamed "armed repression for the death of 22 people" in days of protests over the rising cost of bread, although officials gave a lower death toll.
He gave no further details regarding the death toll, which could not be independently verified.
The protests first erupted in the eastern city of Atbara before spreading to Al-Qadarif, also in eastern Sudan, and then to the capital Khartoum and twin city Omdurman and other areas.
Two demonstrators were killed in Atbara and six others in Al-Qadarif, officials said Thursday.
According to witnesses, demonstrations spread yesterday to at least two more cities: Wad Madani, south-east of Khartoum, and El Rahad south-west of the capital.
Government spokesman Bashar Jumaa on Friday warned that authorities "will not be lenient" with those who set state buildings on fire or cause other damage to public property.
The demonstrations follow a year of mounting economic woes in Sudan, where the cost of some commodities has more than doubled.
Inflation is running at close to 70% and the pound has plunged in value, while shortages have been reported for the past three weeks across several cities including Khartoum.
Source: Qatar News Agency